See a doctor

What Causes Asthma?

No one knows exactly what causes asthma.

What we do know is that symptoms tend to flare up when people are exposed to certain triggers. We also know that some factors increase your risk of asthma.

During your online consultation, the doctor will ask you questions to see if they can identify a potential trigger. They may also ask you questions about your lifestyle and family history to look for risk factors.

Asthma Triggers

  • A respiratory tract infection (RTI), such as the flu
  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Dust mites
  • Pet hair (also known as ‘dander’)
  • Feathers
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Air pollution
  • Medication side effects
  • Cold weather
  • Hot weather
  • Damp or mould
  • Stress
  • Exercise

Some people find that food allergies are an asthma trigger. The symptoms of asthma and a food allergy are similar, so while the allergic reaction isn’t necessarily causing your symptoms, it could be making them worse.

Asthma can affect anyone, at any point in their life. Even if you didn’t have asthma as a child, you may develop it later in life. This is known as adult onset asthma and it can be caused by finding a trigger you didn't know about.

For example, if you only have trouble breathing when you visit a friend who has cats, pet hair could be your trigger.

Woman free from asthma symptoms

Can caffeine cause asthma symptoms?

Everyone’s asthma triggers are different and some people feel that caffeine makes their symptoms worse.

However, studies have shown that caffeine is chemically similar to a widely-used asthma medication. In some cases, it can actually help reduce symptoms. You shouldn’t start using coffee as a replacement for proper treatment, but it may even help a little and is unlikely to cause symptoms to flare up.

Man drinking coffee

Asthma Risk Factors

Certain factors have been shown to increase the possibility of asthma developing. They include:

  • A family history of asthma
  • Living somewhere with a high amount of air pollution
  • Smoking
  • A pre-existing allergy
  • Complications with your birth, or your mother’s pregnancy

Your work environment can also be a key factor. This is particularly true if you work with chemical substances, animals, or in an environment where there’s likely to be dust in the air.

If you’ve noticed your symptoms flaring up after a recent change of job, consider if your workplace could be triggering asthma.

What causes asthma?

How It Works


1. Book an appointment

Be seen in minutes, or choose a time that suits you.

2. See a doctor online

Video chat with a UK GP right here on our site or in our app.

3. Start feeling better

Receive medical advice, prescriptions, referrals and fit notes.
See a doctor

See what some of our happy customers have to say…

Read all of our reviews here.

Push Doctor logo Try Push Doctor today for £30

Join thousands of satisfied customers. Your first appointment is only £30.

See a doctor online How does it work?